Skin of the Night

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As a top law student in London, Cara’s main priority is her career. Anything that can get in the way of that, she avoids as though it were a plague – especially romance. Besides, she’s whole all on her own; she doesn’t need a man to feel complete. 

Then William crosses her path. The dashing lawyer boasts the most merciless tongue Cara has ever come across, whether it’s in debate or bed. Blunt and sharply clever, William ticks every box and even adds some of his own – things Cara never knew she desired in a man. Before long, he puts her convictions on trial, and he drives a ferocious prosecution. Cara finds it hard to resist him, but being together could have disastrous consequences. If William wins the trial, she may lose more than just her heart.

Content warnings: This series explores themes of love, trust and jealousy in relationships. It includes scenes and flawed characters that some readers may find disturbing and/or upsetting. Additionally, it is largely character driven, not plot driven, and contains sexually explicit scenes. It is intended for mature audiences only. Reader discretion is advised.

Skin of the Night is the first book in The Night series.

Skin of the Night

§ 1. Good Terms

© Copyright C.K. Bennett 2022

‘It should be here,’ I told Olivia as I turned left, into a small alley, to find the secluded bar. Looking up, I saw a white and gold sign that was shaped like a hexagonal prism, though cut in half, which overhung a green door. Disrepute, it said. It was a members’ club, but it welcomed walk-ins. Still, to be on the safe side, I had booked a table a few days in advance.

I halted in front of the entrance, where Olivia and I were greeted by a polite man who opened the door for us. We journeyed down a narrow staircase and came into an underground cavern with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. It was still relatively early on a Friday night, so there weren’t that many people here yet. Our arrival attracted a few glances, but none of them lingered; at least we didn’t stand out.

We left our coats in the cloakroom before the staff showed us to our table and handed us the cocktail menu. As I sank onto the settee, I gazed around. The interior was reminiscent of the sixties, with plush colours and lots of velvet furniture, but the music was contemporary – electronic lounge music.

I straightened my back, trying to look more sophisticated than I was. The average age of the clientele was a little older than we were used to. Most of the people present looked like they were well-established men and women in their thirties and forties, so I doubted that students frequently went here.

Olivia wrinkled her small nose as she sat beside me, her plump, light-pink lips forming an uncertain line.

‘Was this the place Jason recommended?’ she asked.

Jason was one of my best friends and had become my flatmate just a few days ago.

‘Yes.’

She leaned closer. ‘It’s very posh, isn’t it?’

‘You sound surprised.’

‘Well, I’m worried I’ll stand out.’

I studied her from head to toe. In her deep-red dress, Olivia resembled a magnificent rose. If anything would make her stand out, it was her beauty, and that alone.

‘I wouldn’t worry if I were you. You definitely look like you belong.’

A heartfelt smile spread across her face. ‘Really?’

‘Yes. You look stunning.’

She put her hand on her ample bosom, seemingly touched by my compliment. ‘Thanks, Cara, but so do you.’

I shrugged and reached for the pine green menu on the small table in front of us. The velvet cover was adorned with the letters D.R.P. in gold.

‘Should we have a look at the menu, then?’ I asked.

Olivia scanned our surroundings once more and leaned closer again. ‘Well, are you sure lawyers frequent this place?’

‘Judging by the look of it, I’m positive.’

‘It’s just that I’d hate to waste my time here if it isn’t the case.’

‘Nice pun.’

She chuckled.

I said, ‘This was Jason’s recommendation, and since his father established a law firm, I took his word for it. Mentioned something about his brother favouring this place as well, and he’s a solicitor, too, from what I’ve gathered.’

I hadn’t met any of Jason’s family members; he no longer lived with them, so the opportunity hadn’t presented itself yet. I was aware they were extremely wealthy, thanks to Jason’s father being the founder of Day & Night LLP – a firm offering legal services – and that they were a busy bunch, since each individual had a demanding job that took up most of their time, but that was as far as my knowledge about them went. I didn’t even remember their names, aside from his father’s – John – and I only remembered his name because he was a big shot in the legal field. As for Jason’s mother and brother, he usually referred to them either as ‘Mum’ or ‘My brother’, so I hadn’t managed to commit their names to memory yet.

That reality was about to change, though. Now that I had secured a vacation scheme at Day & Night to be completed over the summer, and had moved into Jason’s flat in Notting Hill, his family had made it a priority to meet me, so they had invited me for dinner in two weeks. I was looking forward to that. I had wanted to meet Jason’s family for a while now, especially since he had already met mine several times.

As I returned from my thoughts, I could tell that Olivia was on the fence. ‘If you’re having second thoughts, we can always find a new place, but let’s give this one a fair chance first, yeah?’

She tucked a lock of her light-blonde hair behind her ear as she continued to assess our sumptuous surroundings. Her hesitation was blatant.

I sighed. Olivia could sometimes be impossible to deal with; if she didn’t get her way, she transformed into a whiny brat that I couldn’t be bothered to babysit. It didn’t help that I was already beginning to suffer from a guilty conscience at the constant thought of my neglected coursework, and seeing as I was a law student in my third year at UCL, it was not a matter that I took lightly. Besides, my reasons for being here were purely selfless. I wasn’t the one who had wanted to go out tonight. She was. So, if she was going to be a pain in the arse, I would leave her to prowl on her own. But I had already warned her of that, so she had been surprisingly compliant today.

Finally, she directed her attention to me. ‘Fine. Let’s give it a chance.’

I groaned. ‘Took you long enough.’

‘Yeah, sorry. It’s just been so long since we’ve had a girls’ night out that I want everything to be perfect.’

My lips twisted with amusement. ‘Like you’re actually here to spend quality time with me,’ I said with a note of sarcasm.

‘Hey, I’m here for that, too. It’s just that, ever since I broke up with Colin, I haven’t had sex.’

I couldn’t help grinning. ‘What, so you’ve had a dry spell for three months? Poor you.’

Three months without sex? I’d be going insane. No wonder she had been so eager about this night.

She gave me a scowl. ‘Yeah, well, unlike you, I haven’t got a fuck friend. I need to satisfy my libido somehow.’

‘Vibrator not doing the job?’

‘Not even close. I need skin-to-skin contact – I need a man.’

‘And preferably one with a heavy wallet at that.’

A chortle escaped her. ‘Hey, you know I’m not like that. I just thought it would be nice to find a lawyer since I’m a law student and all that. We’d have something in common.’

‘Aside from sexual desperation, you mean.’

She shoved my shoulder. ‘Stop teasing me.’

‘Sorry.’ I laughed. ‘I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, we’re in the right place, then.’ I shook my head. ‘I still don’t understand how you managed to persuade me into joining this.’

Olivia snorted. ‘Cara, even though you may come across as aloof, you’ve actually got a fairly warm and large heart in there – that’s how I managed to persuade you. A heartbroken best friend isn’t something you’re able to ignore.’

‘Lesser of two evils, perhaps.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

I smirked. ‘Maybe tending to your needs is my way of making you shut up sooner.’

She scoffed. ‘If that’s your attitude, you’ll make a rubbish parent.’

Amused, I focused on the menu. ‘I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t want children, then.’

Did I want children? I always said I didn’t, but Mum always told me that the right man would change my mind. Since I was one for keeping an open mind, I didn’t argue with her on that. She had wisdom in her years that I could only dream of. My perspective today was no guarantee of tomorrow’s.

‘Have you settled into your new flat yet?’ Olivia asked.

I looked up and saw that her eyes were wandering. Another smirk surfaced on my mouth. She surely wasn’t wasting time locating a target. Well, I appreciated that. As soon as she sealed the deal with someone, I’d be heading home.

‘No, I’ve been so busy with coursework that I haven’t had time to unpack much. I had to search for a whole hour before I found this dress.’ I glanced down at the purple material. It was my favourite cocktail dress because it clung to my figure like glue. Although I wasn’t voluptuous – I didn’t have big breasts like Olivia – I had relatively wide hips, and years of hard work at the gym had got me a round, perky bum, which this dress accentuated beautifully in my opinion. ‘But I’ve booked a date with Jason tomorrow to finish unpacking.’

Jason and I had met at a pub three years ago, where a live band had been performing songs by Arctic Monkeys – one of my favourites. Our encounter had been perfectly coincidental and, in retrospect, rather comical. I was returning from the bar with a new round of drinks for my younger sister Phoebe and myself when a drunken idiot bumped into me, and the impact made me spill the pints I was holding over Jason, who was walking past me just then.

I was mortified, but, thankfully, Jason didn’t fail to notice that it hadn’t been my fault. After telling off the lad that had bumped into me, he offered to buy me a new round. I was so charmed by him at that moment that I struck up a conversation with him, only to learn that he also studied at UCL, although he wasn’t on my course. Instead, Jason was about to finish his second year of studying medicine back then.

After a few minutes of effortless and invigorating conversation, I invited him to join my sister and me. Since he was there with a couple of mates, he brought them along, and ever since that fateful moment, we had formed an irreplaceable and platonic friendship.

These days he was much like an elder brother to me, so when his flatmate had decided to move out to live with his girlfriend, Jason had asked me to take his place. I hadn’t hesitated to accept, even though it had made Olivia sad. Before then, I had been living with her and two of her friends from college, but I had never really got on with the other girls, hence why I had been eager to move in with Jason. Besides, Olivia and I were still studying together, and we had been best friends for as long as I could remember. It wouldn’t matter if I didn’t live with her anymore – we would never drift apart – and she knew that as well as I did, so she had forgiven me for wanting to move out.

‘I think I’ll have an espresso martini,’ I said and glanced at Olivia with a smile, but it faded as soon as I recognised the look on her face. Already?

Looking in the direction of her gaze, I saw the profiles of two men seated at the bar. They were frowning angrily at one another while they spoke, seeming to be in a heated debate about something.

The next thing I noticed was how attractive they were. Late twenties, perhaps? Early thirties? Both had neatly trimmed stubble and short hair that was immaculately groomed. The man I found most handsome was brown-haired, the other dirty-blond, like Jason. But I’d always had a kink for dark and tall.

‘Which one?’ I asked.

‘Brown-haired.’

‘Let’s head over, then, shall we? I’ll mind his friend.’ I ascended from my seat, confident. I always had been.

Olivia seemed hesitant. ‘Cara, maybe not. They don’t look like they want to be disturbed.’

I scoffed. ‘So what? You won’t know unless you try, Livy – and I can handle rejection. Can’t you?’

Her warm brown Bambi eyes turned to me, and they were filled with a vulnerability that I hated to see. Colin had really done her in, hadn’t he? When he cheated on her time and again?

‘Livy’ – my tone was unusually strict – ‘Colin is a bastard who never deserved you, but just because he is, it doesn’t mean every man is. You can’t give him that power, and you shouldn’t let your past ruin your future.’

Olivia inhaled deeply and gave me a firm nod. I was slightly surprised at how quickly she absorbed my pep talk. She must really be desperate, I thought. Either way, I gave her no time to change her mind. I strutted over to the two men while Olivia trailed behind me.

The dirty-blond man noticed me first, and the look on his face stroked my ego. He turned his whole body toward me, his thin lips parting. Just like his brown-haired friend, he had a strong, lean build.

‘Hi,’ I greeted and held his gaze as I presented my most lascivious smile. His deep-set eyes were big and a warm shade of brown, like melted chocolate. I loved chocolate.

I tilted my head, studying him. He was gorgeous.

When he didn’t respond, I continued, ‘I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation, but my friend and I were wondering if we could buy you guys a drink.’

‘We’re not interested,’ a dreadfully sensual voice intervened.

I looked over and locked eyes with the man Olivia had laid her favour with. They were light-blue and strangely familiar. Dark brown eyebrows ran in nearly straight lines above them, and the shadow they provided amplified his alluring and mysterious aura.

Had I met him before?

A frown formed on my face. I could have sworn I had seen him somewhere.

At that moment, I was so preoccupied with trying to put a name to the face that I neglected the chance to admire it, but Christ, had I ever seen a man more striking than him? Prominent cheekbones highlighted the shape of his strong, square jaw. It was clenched, I saw, but I gave no thought as to why.

Below a proportionate, straight, and masculine nose rested a pair of full, delectable lips. They pressed together, forming a brooding line, while he continued to study me in his annoyance. He was easily the most physically attractive man I had ever encountered, and he wasn’t remotely interested.

‘Where are your manners, man?’ his friend scolded. Then his eyes darted back to mine. ‘Please excuse him. He can be a tad too blunt sometimes.’

Puzzled, I persisted in staring at the dark-haired stranger. I must have met him before. I was certain I had seen him somewhere. But would I have forgotten an encounter with such a beautiful man? I doubted it. Where had I seen him, then? Was he a celebrity?

‘I’m sorry – have we met before?’ I blurted out in my bewilderment.

His eyebrows arched and a condescending chuckle slipped out of his mouth. Sardonic amusement oozed from his riveting features.

‘Honestly, you’re interrupting our conversation, and you couldn’t be more original than that, Miss? At least you could have compensated with a better chat-up line. I’m disappointed. And as I said, we’re not interested, so move along, would you?’

Bewitched by the sound of his sensual voice, it took me a few seconds to process the content, but once I had, I frowned, offended. His friend groaned and shook his head, clearly despairing of his companion.

Could they be gay partners?

Since I was struck by mild shock at his impertinence, I asked, ‘I beg your pardon?’ Then, as soon as it subsided, I snapped back, ‘I was being serious, you utter twat.’

His eyebrows furrowed while he gazed up and down my body – twice. When he met my stare again, a crooked smile crept across his tempting mouth. From the way his eyes had devoured my body, I eliminated the option of him being homosexual. Only a straight man could regard me with such a gleam in his eye.

‘Perhaps we’ve slept together,’ he said. ‘But if we have, you weren’t worth remembering.’

I gasped. What a complete arsehole!

To think he had piqued my interest earlier . . . What an insolent way to treat another human being. His arrogance was off the charts. Who did he think he was? So yes, I had interrupted them, but there was a polite way to reject me. There was no need to step on my dignity.

Rigid, my stare transformed into a pure glower. ‘As if I’d ever get so lost and desperate that I would wind up in a bed with you. You’re a sorry excuse for a man. Tell me, was it the lack of your mother’s affection that made you grow up to treat random women like shit?’

He blinked at my ruthless insult, perhaps a little gobsmacked. Beside me, his companion burst into laughter. Olivia’s existence was lost on me, but, knowing her, she was probably a breath away from withering.

‘I can assure you that my mother and I are on good terms,’ came the handsome man’s calm reply.

I folded my arms and scoffed. ‘Too good, I wager. Heading home to spend the night in her bed, then? That why you’re not interested?’

Olivia gasped and clasped my hand. Observing their shocked facial expressions, she said, ‘Please excuse us.’

‘Excuse us?’ I echoed disbelievingly as she tugged me away from them. ‘Didn’t you hear him just now? How bloody rude he was?’

‘I thought you said you could handle rejection,’ she retorted.

I flushed with a blend of anger and embarrassment. ‘I can, but that was being unnecessarily mean!’

‘Well, choose your battles, then! He’s obviously not worth our attention.’

A valid point. I tried to simmer down, but it was difficult. Looking at Olivia, I saw that she was trembling with irritation. She was clearly rattled, just like the two men. Well, that was something I quite excelled at – rattling people. It was definitely a flaw, but then everyone had flaws, I consoled myself.

Olivia steered me down onto the settee again and dumped her body next to mine. Folding her arms, she glared away from me. ‘Cara, honestly! “Have we met before?” What was that?’

My lips protruded. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said, hoping to reconcile. ‘I honestly thought I’d seen him before. Worst part is that I still think I have.’

She frowned and stole a glance at the men. Mirroring her, I saw that they were laughing, clearly at my expense. Well, they could laugh all they wanted. Personally, the only thing I found laughable was how attractive I had initially found them to be. Instead, they were ugly people with nasty tendencies. Looks could be so deceiving.

Olivia faced me with a puzzled expression. ‘Yeah, you know, now that you mention it, he does look a bit familiar.’

‘Right?’

‘Yeah.’

Where had we seen him, then?

I sighed, wondering if the encounter with them had ruined my chance for a pleasant night. ‘Well, whatever. Order us a round, please, would you? Strongest cocktail they’ve got.’

Olivia’s subsequent chuckle assured me that I was already forgiven. ‘Sure.’

I watched her graceful gait as she returned to the bar like she hadn’t a concern in the world. Olivia had always been great at rising above things. Less could be said for myself. I had much to learn from her in that regard.

The dark-haired man turned his head toward Olivia. It was obvious from how consciously he regarded her that he desired her attention. But, with her chin raised high and her gaze fixed straight ahead, Olivia refused to acknowledge him. The satisfying view made my lips twitch into a devilish grin.

If only Jason had been here. Right about now, he would have laughed his lungs out and patted my back repeatedly, but he’d had coursework to do, which I had respected. Nevertheless I could have used his moral support, so I decided to send him a text.

By the time Olivia returned, it felt like only a minute had elapsed. As she placed an espresso martini on the table, I looked up from my phone and found her smiling. I grinned back, putting my phone aside. She had brought me my favourite cocktail.

‘Next round’s on me,’ I said.

‘I didn’t pay for it.’ She pressed her lips together in a poor attempt to restrain a smile.

‘What?’

‘The guy you insulted did. Asked for your name, too, but I didn’t give it to him. Gathered I’d leave that choice to you.’

My jaw dropped. Had he really bought me a drink? After all that?

On impulse, I looked in his direction. Spellbinding blue eyes met mine, and I was immediately captured by them. Wearing a complacent smirk, he raised his glass at me and gave me a wink, causing his friend to snigger beside him as he shook his head.

‘Seriously? What’s his problem?’ I grumbled and broke out of his spell to focus on Olivia. Sinking into the spot beside me, she raised her cosmopolitan to her mouth.

After a sip, she said, ‘I think you changed his mind, acting the way you did. While I waited for our drinks, you were all he asked about. I told him nothing, though.’

Bemused, I blinked at her. ‘You had a conversation with him?’

Olivia frowned. ‘He insisted on paying for our drinks, Cara. What was I supposed to do?’

Ignore him? I would have.

‘I’m so sorry you had to go through that.’

She laughed. ‘You can have him,’ she said with a grin, her tone clearly implying that she harboured no bitterness and genuinely meant to give me her blessing. ‘He put me off with his attitude. His friend, though – Andrew – he seems nice. He apologised on William’s behalf. William’s the arsehole.’

I scoffed. ‘Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather he pissed off.’

Olivia chuckled and scanned the room again, probably to locate new targets. Meanwhile, I stared at the cocktail Mr Arsehole had bought me. I wanted it, but it felt wrong to accept it, so I just kept staring at it, conflicted.

‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, Cara.’ Olivia rolled her eyes. ‘It’s a free drink. Consider it an apology. Drink it.’

‘You do realise that if he sees me drinking it, he’ll consider himself excused?’ I shook my head. ‘I won’t allow that. I’d rather buy my own.’ I stood up.

‘He’s going to speak to you, then. Is that what you want?’

‘Who says I’ve got to reply? I might as well return the favour – “not interested”.’

As I went to the bar, I glanced at Olivia over my shoulder. She was grinning at me, shaking her head.

I had nearly reached the counter when I felt Mr Arsehole’s eyes on me. It demanded every ounce of my willpower not to meet them. To signal that I did not want to be approached, I arrived as far away from him as possible.

I flattened my hands on the dark surface of the counter, searching for a bartender, but both were busy serving other customers. Mr Arsehole continued to stare at me, and it made me feel uneasy. Hyperaware of myself, I put my elbows on the bartop, held my head between my hands, and studied the wall of myriad bottles straight ahead.

Suddenly his bare and muscular forearms entered my peripheral vision; out of the corner of my eye, I saw them resting on the counter beside me. He had rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt, and the grey waistcoat that he wore on top clung to his robust anatomy, serving as an unfair reminder of his tantalising masculinity.

I recoiled a small step.

‘Miss, I’m sorry about earlier. You’re right, I was very rude.’

I refused to acknowledge him; I pretended not to have heard anything.

‘If you’d give me a second’ – he must have realised that I wasn’t going to respond – ‘I’d like to explain why.’

Just then, a bartender spared me from having to reply to the imbecile. Blond with green eyes, he looked quite Nordic. A warm grin decorated his mouth when our eyes locked.

‘What can I get you, Miss?’

Judging by his strong accent, I thought he might be Swedish.

I smiled back. ‘An espresso martini and a gin and tonic, please, thank you.’

Nodding, he extended to me the payment terminal he had just typed into. I was just about to grab it when Mr Arsehole beat me to it. Snatching it away from me, he inserted his own card.

‘No!’ I objected and stared at his large hands. Prominent veins branched across the back of them, and a few climbed a small distance along his fingers, although they stopped long before they reached his neatly trimmed nails. They were undeniably male hands, and they were a beautiful pair at that. The experienced look of them wasn’t something I would forget anytime soon. During a brief moment of weakness, I wondered what it would feel like to have them caress my naked skin.

His eyebrows arched at my harsh tone. Wearing a lopsided smile, he said, ‘Now that I’ve got your attention—’

‘You had my attention earlier, Oedipus, and you wasted it.’ I snatched back the device.

‘Oedipus?’ he echoed with a titter of amazement. ‘How astute.’

I rolled my eyes and was just about to withdraw his card when his loud sigh made me look at him.

‘If you withdraw my card,’ he said, ‘dear Philip will have to restart the whole process. Do you really mean to make his job any more difficult than it needs to be? Just because you can’t swallow your pride?’

I could hardly fathom the audacity of this man. I had never met someone quite so irritating in all my twenty-three years of life.

When I looked at the bartender, whose name I supposed was Philip, I saw a flash of humour cross his face.

‘You should have a sign on the door that warns of arsehole clientele,’ I told him.

He pressed his lips together and winked at me. Then, while looking at the pest beside me, he asked, ‘What have you done, Will?’

William chuckled. ‘Well, I acted like an arsehole, naturally.’

Philip frowned. ‘That’s unusual.’

‘Yes, she caught me at a bad moment.’

‘Then you ought to apologise to the lady.’ He jerked his head in my direction.

‘I’m trying, but she’s not letting me.’

‘Try harder.’

William faced me again. ‘Andy, my mate, has got a girlfriend. Or . . . he used to. They split up just today, but I expect it’s only temporary. So you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, love,’ he said. ‘I’m the nice guy. Now, unless you’d like to get in the middle of that, I reckon I did you a favour.’

I pursed my lips, despising the fact that I found his reason valid. Then again, it could be a lie. I didn’t know the man. And if it was the truth, he could still have treated us more respectfully.

‘Why should I trust what you’re saying?’ Scepticism coloured my tone.

William gestured to the payment terminal just as it started beeping. We had run out of time.

‘Let’s settle this first,’ he said as Philip grabbed the device to start over. ‘May I buy your drinks for you?’

His gaze was penetrative, and the sight made a lump gather in my throat. I hadn’t noticed it before, but the man was rather intense – everything about him was.

I swallowed, nodding.

‘Thank you.’ He gave me a look of wonder. Puzzled, I frowned back.

‘So . . .’ he said while pressing the digits of his PIN. ‘What’s your name, then?’

‘Oh, so you actually are interested,’ I quipped as I watched Philip perform his magic. ‘How funny. I haven’t been bullied by a boy who fancies me since primary school.’

Stealing a glance at William, I saw his mouth bend into a winsome grin. An incredulous laugh slipped out of it. In front of us, Philip pretended not to exist, although he failed at concealing his amusement. From his pursed lips, it was obvious that he was struggling not to laugh. Seeming to realise the same, he walked away to finish my drinks further away from us, probably to give us some privacy.

‘Yes, well, I’m glad I could treat you to some nostalgia,’ William said.

‘More like trauma.’

Glancing over again, I noticed that William had turned slightly away from me to hide his reaction. From my limited view of his face, I saw that his grin persisted, but he was now biting on his lower lip while looking at the floor as though he could barely contain himself.

‘Listen’ – he turned to face me properly – ‘if it’s not obvious already, I seriously regret my behaviour. I hadn’t thought you’d be so . . .’ His eyes narrowed faintly. ‘Intriguing.’

I snorted. Did he really consider that to be a legitimate excuse for his behaviour? What if I hadn’t been intriguing? What then? Would he have considered his conduct justified?

He was obviously a conceited idiot. Why was I wasting even a breath on him?

Condescension was etched on my face when I finally turned toward him. Even though I was wearing heels, he towered over me. Since I felt small and vulnerable this close to him, I wondered how tall he actually was. Taking my own height into account, and adding it to the fact that I was wearing heels, I reckoned he was at least six-foot-four, maybe five. He was strong, too, which I could tell from the way his shirt and waistcoat strained against his broad upper body.

‘Who would have guessed?’ A wry smile flickered across my mouth. ‘How to seduce an arsehole: accuse him of sleeping with his mother. Turned you on, did it? The idea of her?’

Frightened, I turned rigid when he suddenly leaned toward me. Hardly an inch separated our noses. He was so close that I could smell the alcohol on his breath as it fanned against my face. In my momentary fear, my eyes locked with his, and I was immediately hypnotised by their dominating gleam.

Perhaps this wasn’t a man to be trifled with. He didn’t come across as the sort of man who allowed others to walk over him. On the contrary, he looked to be in the habit of performing that deed himself; I felt walked over. To be honest, under the burning heat of his gaze, I felt vanquished.

You did,’ he said firmly.

 

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